5/26/10 – Tohoku (Home)

May 26th, 2010

Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles 3

Tokyo Yakult Swallows 2

Streak: Lost 9   Last 5: LLLLL

(Meiji Jingu Stadium)

After last Saturday’s debacle at Chiba, Tokyo had to pick themselves up off the floor and try to soldier on, despite today’s devastating news that Takada hadn’t resigned after all (Takada Count: 9).

  1. Fukuchi (LF)
  2. Tanaka (2B)
  3. Aoki (CF)
  4. D’Antona (1B)
  5. Guiel (RF)
  6. Miyamoto (3B)
  7. Fujimoto (SS)
  8. Aikawa (C)
  9. Tateyama (P)

In the 1st facing Rakuten rookie starter Tomura, Fukuchi led off with a single only for Tanaka to fluff his Tak-bunt attempt which allowed the out to be made at second. Aoki then hit into an inning ending double play to yet again illustrate the utter futility of the Tak-bunt.

In the 2nd, D’Antona led off the inning with a broken-bat single up the middle, and he later moved to second on a wild pitch. Guiel singled to put men on the corners for Miyamoto, who hit one up the right foul line for a double to make it 1-0 Tokyo and leave two men in scoring positions with no outs. Only Fujimoto and Aikawa then both flew out to shallow ground leaving Tateyama to strikeout to strand the runners. But Tokyo did have themselves a lead, a thing that has been rarely seen around these parts of late.

The lead would double in the 3rd, with walks for Tanaka and D’Antona followed up with a timely single from Guiel to make it 2-0. If you’d have looked carefully enough at this point you would have probably seen trickles of blood emanating from the Tokyo players noses.

But just as you thought things may be heading in the recently forgotten direction of “comfortable”, Rakuten came back into things in the top of the 4th. Tateyama gave up his first hit of the game, a Nori Makamura solo homer for 2-1. Veteran Yamazaki then hit a bloop single that narrowly stayed fair along the right foul line, and a fumble (error) from D’Antona allowed him to reach second. The error would ultimately prove costly. Yamazaki was moved along by a groundout before Linden hit a single to centre that scored the tying run for 2-2.

And the inevitability continued in the top of the 6th, with another solo shot, this time for Yamazaki, putting the Eagles ahead 3-2 Rakuten.

In the bottom of the inning, Tokyo had a chance to draw level. Miyamoto singled with one out, before a Fujimoto Tak-bunt moved him along. Aikawa singled to put men on the corners, Takada put in Ihara for Tateyama and he could only flyout to centre and the deficit remained.

Tateyama’s final numbers for his 6 innings of work were 3 runs off 5 hits, with 6 Ks and 4 walks. Not his sharpest but he’s moving in the right direction after coming back into the rotation post-shoulder troubles. He would eventually be tagged with the loss to put his record at 2-3/3.38.

Oshimoto (3.00) was his replacement on the mound, and almost let the game slip completely out of reach in the top of the 7th. A two-out double, a dead ball and an infield single loaded the bases for Linden but he flew out to Aoki in centre and the threat was neutered.

Matsuoka (0.96) let a man reach third with one out in the top of the 8th, but superb snags from Tanaka at second and Miyamoto at third kept the Swallows in the game.

Lim (1.35) pitched a 1,2,3 top of the 9th and then with two-outs in the bottom of the inning, pinch hitter Takeuchi singled off Rakuten closer Kawagishi and was replaced by pinch runner Noguchi. Takada then bravely/boneheadedly called for the steal which Noguchi executed, only for Fukuchi to strike out and leave the tying run stranded at second. 3-2 Rakuten Final. The Swallows did outhit the Eagles 9-8, with Guiel (.210), Miyamoto (.241) and Aikawa (.259) each managing two hits apiece.

Takada left the stadium surrounded by the possibly biggest scrum of reporters/minders I’ve ever seen at Jingu, no doubt all asking him if he’d reconsider his non-resignation decision and kindly fuck off (which a short while later, he would do).

So then, a bit better than 20-4, and a more “typical” Swallows loss: decent enough pitching keeping them in the game, a couple of Swallows runs scoring in the first third of the game, and the bats then going quiet in the latter portion allowing the opposition to leave with the victory.

But a loss is a loss, and they’re becoming the currency for Tokyo, who have now lost 9 in a row. They’ll be going for the big one-zero tomorrow evening and if they manage that they’ll look to tie the all-time Interleague losing streak record of 11 against the Buffaloes in Osaka on Saturday.

At least we have something to aim for.

Happy days at Jingu

About David Watkins

David is a baseball bothering Brummie who spends a fair portion of his life fretting over the Tokyo Swallows and the WORLD'S GREATEST FOOTBALL TEAM, Aston Villa. He completes the quartet of abusive sporting relationships by being a die hard New York Knicks and Mets fan. You can find him on twitter: @yakulto